Government COVID-19 lockdown forces changes to MS Awareness Week

Please note: The current Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is fast moving, and reactions to it seem to update not just day-by-day but minute-by-minute. Obviously, this site was not designed to bring you the very latest developments in a ‘breaking news’ story such as this. Instead, this site will continue to include news and opinions relating to major events, policy changes, and so on.


uk ms week logo

Well, the long-awaited annual national MS Awareness Week has finally arrived in the UK, to be met by the fifth week of the country’s COVID-19 lockdown. First proclaimed in a televised announcement by prime minister Boris Johnson, on March 23, the restrictions have now been extended into May.

dominic raab

Dominic Raab is deputising for prime minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from COVID-19.

Last Thursday, April 16, foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced that the UK would continue in lockdown for another three weeks until May. And it is likely to go on well beyond that. Mr Raab, as first secretary of state, is deputising for Johnson as he recovers from the illness.

Faced with the lockdown, the MS Society wants to flood social media with stories of MS to raise awareness of all its symptoms, including disabilities that may, or may not, be obvious to others. And how we might be feeling on the inside when outside we ‘don’t look ill.’

To do this, it is urging everyone living with MS to:

  • Upload a picture to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – it could be of you or more abstract
  • Tell us what MS means to you – how you feel or the impact it has on your life
  • Use #MSWeek #ThisisMS
  • Tag @mssocietyuk so we can share your posts to show people the reality of life with MS

The society says: “For MS Awareness Week, let’s speak up together to help everyone understand exactly what MS is like. Because together we are stronger.”

Event plans so far

As far as the rest of MS Awareness Week is concerned, at the moment, the following events have been affected. And it’s likely that more events will be postponed in the coming weeks.

2020 Virgin Money London Marathon is postponed until Sunday October 4

Brighton Marathon is postponed until Sunday September 20

Manchester Marathon is postponed – new date to be confirmed

London Landmarks Half Marathon is postponed – new date to be confirmed

Edinburgh Marathon festival is postponed until the weekend of  September 5/6

Glasgow Kiltwalk is postponed – new date to be confirmed

Forth Rail Bridge Abseil is postponed – new date to be confirmed

Jurassic Coast Challenge is postponed until the weekend of September 19/20

Zip it to stop MS is postponed – new date to be confirmed

10in10 or 5in5 Challenge is postponed until Saturday June 19, 2021

Zipslide Zinger is postponed until Saturday  September 5

If any other events are affected, the MS Society will be updating its website event pages with new information.

Event postponed?

If an event, in which someone had planned to participate, is cancelled but they still want to donate funds they have raised, then go ahead. Charities appreciate everyone’s continued support and it would be wonderful if people could still make their planned donations. Support helps charities provide information and services to people living with MS -and fund millions of pounds of MS research each year, to help achieve their mission to stop MS.

When events are postponed or cancelled, alternative dates are currently being considered whlle plans for most of them after April to go ahead as usual. Right now, new dates are available for some events.

If anyone is holding their own fundraising activity or event, they are advised to follow government lockdown laws, including guidance on social distancing and protecting vulnerable people. If that fundraising activity is something that can still be done with some adjustments, they are urged to do so!

All UK-based MS charities agree that it’s vital that at this challenging time we continue to support the multiple sclerosis community. This might mean doing a challenge remotely or holding an event online with friends and family.

If anyone has questions about their own event, they can contact the MS Society by email or phone 0300 500 8084.

MS charities during lockdown

ms societyMS Society members of staff are working from home wherever possible. Those unable to work during the crisis are on a temporary leave of absence (or furlough). For their benefit, the society is taking up a new subsidy introduced by the government under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where it pays 80% of staff wages while they can’t work.

The society’s MS Helpline is still open and can be reached by phone free on 0808 800 8000 or It is taking a large amount of calls and expect it to grow over the coming days and weeks. It says: “We’re working hard on ways to grow our capacity so we can answer as many calls as possible. But, if you can’t get through, please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as they can.”

MS Trust is operating remotely and warns that its telephone lines may go to voicemail, which it will check regularly during office hours. Anyone wishing to contact the MS Trust is asked to do so by email if possible, or phone and leave name and number for it to call back.  Email the trust’s Enquiry Service at, or phone free 0800 032 38 39.

msukMS-UK is also working remotely and says that due to a high volume of calls, responses from its helpline service may be delayed. However, if there is no one available to take your call please leave information about your query, email address and telephone number and a Helpline Information Officer will get back to you as soon as possible. Please note that it is likely that MS-UK will be able to respond to emails faster than telephone messages and that you may receive responses outside of office hours. To contact the MS-UK Helpline email or phone free 0800 783 0518.

#MSWeek #ThisisMS @mssocietyuk  @mstrust  @ms-uk

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Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.

For example:

Centre                              not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control)                  Colour                              not color                                                                                                                      Diarrhoea                       not diarrhea                                                                                                  Haematology                not hematology                                                                                Haematopoietic          not hematopoietic

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.


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